We all know that Google’s ranking algorithm uses hundreds of different factors to determine the position of search results – but is your mouse pointer one of them?
According to a recent post on Seo By The Sea, the answer is Yes, after Google was recently granted a patent for determining search relevancy using pointer activity monitoring.
The patent discusses how Google may use information about where searchers hover their mouse pointer as a ranking signal for how relevant those results may be to a search query. This type of monitoring may be used across organic results, sponsored links and Google onebox results.
Below is a snippet from the Google patent,
A typical user’s behavior is to move the mouse pointer (or any other pointing indicator) over or near a target informational item, keep the mouse pointer there for a period of time while the user reads the item’s information (e.g., title and snippet), and then click through the underlying link or move to another item.
Sometimes, a user may review multiple informational items responsive to a search query, moving a pointer over or near each of the informational items that the user reviews. These various pointer activities can provide another way to evaluate the user’s feedback with respect to a particular informational item.
While the patent was only recently approved, it has been 5 years in the making so there’s no guarantee on the extent that Google are currently using this technology.
Heatmap and eye tracking providers have used similar systems for many years to monitor users, so I do believe it would provide search engines some useful data.
What do you think about the patent, do you use the mouse pointer as a tracker as you read over a page? Let us know in the comments below.